The Phoenix Suns are said to be interested in acquiring Chris Paul by way of a trade. It’s a fair notion, as the 10-time All-Star would pair nicely with young stars like Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. However, it’s not exactly clear what sort of package the Suns would need to offer to solidify such a deal.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at two ways in which the Suns could acquire Paul from the Thunder.
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that Paul is one of the highest-paid players in the NBA, even at the age of 35. The former Wake Forest standout is set to make $41 million this year and $45 million in the following campaign — all of which is guaranteed. He won’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2022, though he does have a player option for 2020-21.
This means that the Suns will need to shell out some serious assets if they truly intend on trading for Paul. Some may view this as a bad idea, but consider the fact that he is still playing at an efficient clip, and Phoenix is a team that is looking to get over the proverbial hump in the postseason.
Paul could lead the Suns to their destination. He led the Thunder in several statistical categories last season, including assists per game (6.7), steals per game (1.6) and games played (70). It’s true that he’s dealt with injuries in the past, but there is no doubting the fact that he is one of the best floor generals the game has ever known.
Just picture a roster consisting of Chris Paul, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. The Western Conference is tough these days, but this sort of Suns lineup would certainly contend.
Keep the pick, but lose some role players
The Suns have the No. 10 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. It’s not clear if they intend to hold onto this selection, but they could use it in a deal for Paul.
Obviously, the Thunder will want more than just a first-round draft pick for Paul. This is where the role players come in. Players like Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr. could be used to sweeten the pot, so to speak. However, in this scenario, the Suns would likely need to include another player to meet CBA requirements. A player like Frank Kaminski could be thrown in as a third piece.
Doing this deal (Ricky, Kelly and Frank for CP3) allows the Suns to still spend most or all of that $19 million in cap space on another piece to solidify the rotation… like Danilo Gallinari. Imagine a lineup of CP3, Book, Mikal, Gallo and DA. That’s a playoff lineup for sure! Or make it Christian Wood or Jerami Grant at the PF spot. Whatever floats your boat.
This option would give the Suns a solid lineup. However, it would also give the team some options in free agency, and they would retain their No. 10 pick.
Trade the pick, but lose role players and cap space
In this scenario, the Suns would trade their No. 10 pick in the coming drat, a role player like Ricky Rubio, as well as cap space. Basically, Phoenix would be forgoing free agency, though they could look to add a player or two on a veteran’s minimum deal.
Phoenix would pick a player that Oklahoma City likes in this year’s draft at No. 10. That sounds easy enough, but the Suns would then need to decline all their options and Dario Saric’s qualifying offer. They would also need to deny Aron Baynes’ cap hold in order to create enough cap space to absorb Paul. If this idea came to fruition, Phoenix would have the cap room exception of $4 million to use on a player, and they could still add a minimum deal or two.
In this format, the Suns’ starting lineup would consist of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Deandre Ayton. A formidable lineup, to be sure. But would it be enough to contend in a loaded Western Conference? Phoenix is coming off a perfect run in the bubble, where they went 8-0 and nearly made a trip to the playoffs. No doubt they’ll be looking to keep their momentum rolling in the coming season.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see what sort of offer the Suns dish out for Paul, who is still seeking his first championship. It must be noted that other teams will be interested in his services, and it is believed that he will have some input on his destination.